Thursday, November 11, 2010
Mark D. Jordan
Richard Reinhold Neihbur Professor of Divinity at Harvard Divinity School
Sacred Sociology: A Parable of Ethics and Ritual
‘Sacred sociology’ was once the project of an unlikely community of radical writers on religion. Convinced by Nietzsche of the death of God, they proclaimed that religious ritual was more important than ever in human life. Their community quickly failed, but pieces of the project lived on—especially among their intellectual descendants, including Michel Foucault. We need to recall their project as a parable for moments when Christian ethicists want to solve problems of persuasion by pointing to worship.
Mark D. Jordan is the Richard Rienhold Niehbur Professor of Divinity at Harvard Divinity School. His interests include Christian ethics of sex and gender, the limits of religious language, the rhetoric of theology, and the ritual creation of religious identities. His books include The Invention of Sodomy in Christian Theology (1997), winner of the 1999 John Boswell Prize for lesbian and gay history; The Ethics of Sex (2002); Telling Truths in Church: Scandal, Flesh, and Christian Speech (2003); Rewritten Theology: Aquinas after His Readers (2006); and, with Virginia Burrus and Karmen MacKendrick, Seducing Augustine: Bodies, Desires, Confessions (2010). A new book on the rhetoric of American church controversies over homosexuality will appear early in 2011.
The Vanderbilt Divinity School Howard L. Harrod Lecture was established to honor Harrod, the Oberlin Alumni Professor of Social Ethics and Sociology of Religion, who taught for more than 30 years at Vanderbilt. Harrod worked extensively in environmental ethics and activism and was an advocate for new ways of understanding the relationships of humans with the animal and natural worlds.
The Harrod Lecture is free and open to the public.